Scam posing as COVID relief fund targets college students

Scam targets college students
Published: Sep. 11, 2022 at 10:04 PM EDT
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(WFSB) - College students are being asked to be vigilant with their emails after a student in the state fell victim to a scam.

It poses as a COVID relief fund.

Through some steps, you’re asked to send money to them in order to get the free money.

We don’t know exactly how much money the student lost, but we’ve learned the victim attends Western Connecticut State University.

In college, your email is everything.

“It’s the way instructors get in touch with you. It’s often times where you find announcements for your classes,” said Tina Rheaume, MSW Candidate at UConn Hartford.

It’s why Tina, a UConn grad student, is extremely careful with hers.

Her first red flag was a weird email address she doesn’t recognize.

“A lot of times, I won’t even open it and I’ll just delete it. Because I’m thinking it could be like some sort of phishing or spam or somebody looking to get your information,” said Tina.

But as careful as most students are, one Western student lost money to a “COVID relief fund” scam.

According to CCSU police, the scammer emails students, asking them to apply to get a piece of the fund.

That gets victims a check, but when they try to deposit it, the scammer says there’s a mistake and the victim has to send money back first.

Once that money’s sent, the scammer wins.

CCSU junior Visoud Kong says if he got that far, that’d be his sign it’s a scam.

“If they want to send you the money, they will send you the money right off the bat. There should be no excuse of why they should collect a small payment first. Free money should be free money, you shouldn’t have to send anything back,” said Visoud.

Kristen Johnson with the Better Business Bureau says this kind of scam is common.

“We see it so often, especially during the pandemic,” said Kristen.

Usually in the form of a government imposter.

She says a way to verify if it’s a scam is to call the agency they’re posing as.

“Look up the real number to this government agency, pick up the phone, call them up, and say hey, are you really offering this program and do I qualify?” said Kristen.

The BBB says younger people, ages 20 to 29, are more likely to fall for scams involving fake checks.

If you think you’re being scammed, you can check out the BBB crime tracker here.